Four’s: Vampire Bund, Hanamaru

Vampire Bund 4 feels like a bit of a letdown, maybe because it lacked the silliness of last episode. In its place is a little bit of whimsy as Mina sneaks off to play jump-rope with some little kids. Now, I don’t expect a lot of frivolity in this series, but it was nice when they were able to work that in. This episode is all serious business, unfortunately, it only half works.

What works is the intrigue of the thing. Juneau, a descendant of a long line of vampire servers, comes to the island to take over Mina’s protection, kicking “dog” Akira to the curb, as it were. Naturally, a plot to blow up everything (using a bomb stolen from Mina’s side—what were they going to do with a bomb, anyway?) sneaks in under Juneau’s nose, and Akira has to save the day. It’s done fairly well; Akira’s abilities are vindicated, as Mina suspected they would be, and Juneau gets egg on his face. And we learn a little more about Vampires and their castes and politics.

What doesn’t work is the press conference. Mina basically repeats what she said to the bigwigs last episode. It doesn’t matter that this time she is making her intentions public, we, the audience, have heard it before, in some detail. So all we do is twiddle our thumbs until the anticipated bomb shows up.

One more good and bad. Mina, in spite of her loli appearance, is becoming an interesting character, full of contradictions. She offed that student last time (or ordered her offed), plays blackmail with a superpower’s economy, yet shows respect to the “fangless” caste and is happy that the bund will protect them, and she likes jump rope. The bad thing is that the show’s style, with its quick cuts, odd angles and sudden blackouts, doesn’t necessarily work with the show itself. Unlike other visual, er, “arty” shows like Ef or Bakemonogatari, the style feels forced in and hasn’t yet worked too well with the story’s flow. But that may change.

Hanamaru Kindergarten‘s Tsuchida is a cad, I say! A cad! After all the preparations Anzu and her friends made to set them up on the perfect date, he won’t even kiss her! How dare he play with that innocent lass’s affections!

Actually, the whole thing is pretty funny. The tots come up with another plan to win Tsuchida’s everlasting love. And, coming I suspect from Hiiragi’s knowledge of adults (plenty of books, no experience), it’s pretty elaborate. We get the fancy restaurant with its exotic drink (milk with an umbrella in it, and Tsuchida drinks it all–the cad!), a drive in a car, and a romantic tryst at the park, where the girls have some special effects ready.

Romantic atmosphere.

The mood is perfect, except recess ends before he kisses her, and he doesn’t even mind! The cad! The bounder! Actually, I admired Tsuchida’s tact and gentleness, not to mention his patience, through it all.

The second half has no such fireworks, though it’s happy and sweet. Yamamoto covers Tsuchida’s class for a day, and because he told his kids to help her out, Anzu becomes Yamamoto’s official helper. She does her best, predictably making messes here and there, which Yamamoto cheerfully cleans up. There’s little to say about it, except that Anzu comes to like her rival in love. Not as funny as part one, but likeable enough.

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